By Charles Lam
By LP HASTINGS
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By LP HASTINGS
By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
The oppressive sun has set at last, a silver moon hangs full in the sky, and all the little ghouls and goblins step forth from the shadows to converge upon Santa Ana's own Night Gallery, where they feast their beady, bloodshot eyes upon . . . ceramics. But not just any ceramics. Dark ceramics. Evil ceramics. Goth ceramics.
Okay, admittedly, when you think about all things Goth, you don't usually (or ever) think of ceramics. But hey, remember all those big, sinister urns in the corners of Edward Gorey's picture books? Those were Goth ceramics, weren't they? And what about the décor of the Addams Family house? They had crazy vases and pots all over the place! Of course, even Gorey and the Addamses might have quailed at the prospect of bringing home some of the pots from the Night Gallery. These, my friends, are some seriously wicked pots.
While the place is called Night Gallery Ceramics, there's no obvious connection to the wildly uneven Rod Serling TV series of the early '70s. It must also be said that some of the best work there isn't ceramic at all. Sure, Robert Brown's big, rusty-looking Raku pots are undeniably gorgeous; with their bat motifs and fancy little gewgaw handles, these things would look perfectly at home decorating the crumbling palace of those scary lizard-bird monster guys from The Dark Crystal. (Now, that'll have some of you Goth kids salivating, right there.) But Brown also does some Tim Burton-y drawings that will make your black little heart skip a beat. Even the frames are a freaky, funereal kick in the head; they look like they would hang proudly in the waiting room of Dr. Caligari.
Krys Sapp's sculptural pieces are kind of like Catholic altars put together by a crazy person who lives in a junkyard (we mean that in a good way), all snaky bits and busted-up clock parts, and spray-painted doll and devil heads. You'd think this would be the stuff of dreadful Goth cliché by now, and perhaps in a lesser artist's hands, it would be. But with Sapp on the job, fat little jokers sitting in miniature electric chairs are actually cool and spooky again. To be sure, not all of her pieces are winners: When she's not pushing herself, her paintings can look like illustrations for Silent Hill trading cards or something, but when she's on, this girl is cooking with some evil gas.
Eric Pigor's cartoon monsters look like the Groovie Goolies with gangrene and cleavage. He draws this one busty, Elvira-esque hottie who goes by the unfortunate handle of Miss Rot N. Caskets, and the girl is a Hot Topic wet dream. Shannon Jones' art looks like the part of the movie where somebody does acid or something and their tattoo comes to life and tries to kill them; it's very bright and kitschy stuff for the Miami Inkcrowd, executed with conviction, if not oodles of technical skill. At least if you buy one of these pieces on the spur of the moment, and then get tired of it later, you can always just take it down from your wall and sell it to somebody else. That's much more convenient than real tattoos, which you later have to get lasered off your ass after you've come to your senses at the age of 45.
The Night Gallery is usually open to the public on Saturday afternoons exclusively (not at night—and how lame is that?) and by appointment only the rest of the week. But on the first Saturday night of each month, the place fulfills its true potential for dark delights, flinging wide its doors from 7 to 10 p.m. as part of Santa Ana's acclaimed series of art walks. (And sometimes, it can get quite crowded.) This Saturday, the gallery will be showcasing the work of such drippingly Goth artistes as Reddor, Darkly Shine, Emily Hein and Dark Horse comics cartoonist Crab Scrambly. So throw on your cape and top hat and skulk over to Main Street to witness the ceramics of the damned.
But heed ye well this dire warning: Stash your late grandpa's ashes in one of these urns, and the old bastard will probably haunt you for the rest of your life.
Night Gallery Ceramics, 201 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 973-8477; www.nightgalleryceramics.com . Sat., 7-10 p.m.